South African presidency denies imminent arrest of finance minister

Johannesburg, May 16 (IANS) The South African presidency on Sunday denied the imminent arrest of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The presidency has noted the story in the Sunday Times alleging an imminent arrest of Gordhan, presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.

The newspaper claimed that Gordhan could soon be arrested after anti-crime unit, the Hawks, reportedly handed a docket over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for his involvement in the SA Revenue Service’s (SARS’) “rogue unit” which was allegedly spying on taxpayers during his time as SARS’ commissioner during 1999 and 2009, according to Xinhua.

“We have also noted the response of law enforcement agencies which have swiftly denied the rumour,” Ngqulunga said.

It is clear therefore that the story is the work of dangerous information peddlers who wish to cause confusion and mayhem in the country, he said.

Zuma and the whole of government are focused on the goal of reigniting economic growth, preserving existing jobs and creating more jobs through working together with business and labour, Ngqulunga said.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the NPA, Luvuyo Mfaku, also claimed that no decision has been made to prosecute Gordhan and that the matter remained under investigation.

Gordhan has said the so-called “rogue unit” was lawfully established to perform very important functions for and on behalf of SARS.

This was in line with tax laws which have always vested SARS with wide powers for the investigation of tax matters, including the investigation of crimes with tax implications, said Gordhan.

Gordhan was appointed by Zuma in early December last year to replace his predecessor Nhlanhla Nene.

–IANS

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